Conservative Conference – Anti-Union Announcements

1. Rights for Shares


Under the scheme announced in the Chancellor’s speech, employers would be able to offer “employee-owner” status to new recruits or existing members of staff. The employee-owners would receive between £2,000 and £50,000 worth of shares, which would be exempt from Capital Gains Tax when they are eventually sold.


In return, staff will give up rights including the ability to claim unfair dismissal after two years in a job; the right to statutory redundancy payments; and the statutory right to request flexible working or time to train. Employee-owners will have to provide 16 weeks notice to bosses of their intent to return from parental leave after the birth of a child – double the eight weeks required from other staff.


Unfair dismissal claims will remain possible in a few exceptional circumstances, such as when dismissal is linked to the national minimum wage or to an employee’s refusal to work on a Sunday. Businesses will remain free to offer contractual redundancy pay, flexible working and time off to train to employee-owners if they choose to. (Express & Star)


Reaction: Policy unravelling


2. Facility Time


Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude announced that civil servants will no longer be allowed to spend more than half of their paid time on trade union work, unless they have special exemption from the secretary of state or their chief executive.


In addition, each department will face a limit on how much of the pay bill can be spent on trade union activities. Departments will be able to spend 0.1% of their pay bill on trade union representation, including time for health and safety and union learning representatives. (Personnel Today)


Unison reaction: Effective and engaged union representation saves the public purse between £170m and £400m a year.


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